An Exercise to Create Vivid Dreams
An Adapted Excerpt from “How to Catch a Dream” by Theresa Cheung
Before sleeping, give the right side of your brain a workout. Doing so primes your brain for vivid dreams.
The more you challenge your brain and unlock its unlimited potential during the day, the more ‘awake’ your mind is likely to be at night. Approaching things in a new way keeps your brain on high alert. The busier your brain is, the more rewarding your life. And the more rewarding your life, the more fulfilling your dreaming, as your dreams reflect who you are during the day.
In essence, the more routine, predictable and in a rut your waking life is, the less likely you are to have memorable dreams. If you want your dreaming – and your life – to upgrade, it’s high time to shake up and recharge your brain.
Here’s an exercise that can help you cultivate an optimum dream-inducing mindset.
When you are awake, your logical left brain tends to dominate or overshadow the more imaginative, creative and intuitive right brain, which is where all inspiration comes from. But when you’re asleep, your intuition is freed from restraints and speaks to you in the symbolic language of dreams.
That’s why, as you may have noticed, your dreams don’t obey the linear, logical or rational laws that govern your waking reality. They spring from an alternate reality where there is no order or sense of time or space, or any rules or rationality at all. While you are sleeping, your imagination is unchained.
Performing this backward-thinking exercise completely blind- sides your logical brain. It sends a strong message to your intuitive right brain that you are willing to override logic and are therefore receptive to any messages it feels inspired to send you in your dreams.
How do you do it? Half an hour or so before you go to bed, you try to remember your day in reverse order.
• Set a timer on your phone or watch for one minute.
• Take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus your concentration.
• Tell yourself that on the count of three you are going to remember what happened in your day in reverse order.
• Start from the half an hour or so before you get ready for bed and go back to when you got up in the morning.
• See yourself getting ready to go to bed, then reflect on your evening meal. Don’t focus on daily trivia, just the focal points of your day—the key moments.
• Next, backtrack to how you spent your afternoon.
• Then what you ate for lunch.
• Keep going back over your morning and waking-up routine.
• End this exercise with remembering any dreams you recalled first thing in the morning.
• Stop when your timer goes off.
This sounds simple. In fact, it is anything but. If you’ve ever tried writing with your non-dominant hand, you’ll be familiar with the sense of awkwardness and unfamiliarity you will experience.
It’s also virtually impossible to do this exercise flawlessly first time around. You’ll notice that your mind immediately wants to impose a logical order and think forwards, not backwards.
If this happens, don’t get tense. The aim is to achieve 60 seconds of fluent backwards thinking. But even if you only achieve 10-second bursts, that’s enough to send your brain a powerful message that you are serious about empowering your intuitive, dreaming mind so that it isn’t constantly overshadowed by logic and linear time.
If you keep repeating the exercise every evening, ideally for 21 days, you’ll find that you gradually adjust and it feels easier and more natural. When that happens, give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are really shaking up your mind and can expect to see positive changes in both your waking life and your dreams.
An adapted excerpt from How to Catch a Dream, published by HarperCollins, Copyright © 2022 by Theresa Cheung